By Sean Tembo
1. As Patriots for Economic Progress (PeP) we are deeply concerned by the continued regional narrative that is being peddled by the New Dawn administration at every available opportunity. Firstly, about a month ago, the Minister of Finance Honorable Situmbeko Musokotwane issued a statement on the floor of Parliament to the effect that his Government will be getting a loan from the World Bank to build secondary schools in Western, Southern and North-Western province because these three provinces were neglected by the previous administrations. Secondly, a few days ago, the Minister of Local Government Honorable Garry Nkombo issued a statement on the floor of Parliament which presented cherry-picked information that falsely portrayed that Western, Southern and North-Western provinces were neglected by the previous administration in terms of implementation of the feeder road project.
2. As Patriots for Economic Progress we have noted that these divisive statements that have been coming from very senior members of the New Dawn administration have had the effect of inflaming the emotions of our brothers and sisters from these three provinces of Zambia against their colleagues from other provinces. This is evidenced by the regional nature of discourse on social media. This situation is totally unacceptable and is detrimental to the well-being of Zambia as a unitary state. It is totally unimaginable that the New Dawn administration which was overwhelmingly voted into office by all corners of Zambia can today be in the forefront fueling tribal and regional divisions barely 3 months into office.
3. As Patriots for Economic Progress, we are fully aware of the fact that the UPND administration constantly seeks to portray the previous administration as having totally failed, so as to eliminate the possibility of a reemergence of the Patriotic Front on the political scene. From a political point of view, the UPND are free to use whatever strategy that they deem most ideal to help prolong their stay in power. However, the UPND administration should desist from peddling a narrative that seeks to divide this country on tribal and regional lines, in their quest to paint the former PF administration with a black brush.
4. As Patriots for Economic Progress we wish to advise the UPND administration that it was forgivable for them to peddle tribal and regional narratives while they were in opposition, but now that they are in Government, it is totally unforgivable for them to peddle any such narratives. Even if, for arguments sake, the former PF administration did indeed neglect the said three provinces, a mature government is supposed to quietly rectify such an anomaly instead of making careless and dangerous public statements which are inflaming the emotions of our brothers and sisters from the three provinces against their colleagues in the other provinces. President Hakainde Hichilema and his Ministers should make a constant effort to remind themselves that they are no longer in opposition and that they now carry the huge responsibility of managing the affairs of the nation and uniting the entire country. To this effect, they need to desist from issuing childish statements that seek to give them political mileage over the PF party but at the expense of dividing the nation.
5. As Patriots for Economic Progress it is our further considered view that it is not even in the political interests of the UPND party to drive a wedge between their stronghold in the three provinces and the rest of the country. The UPND must be reminded that for 23 years, they tried to form Government with their three-province stronghold but failed. It was only after other provinces decided to embrace their political party that they succeeded to form Government. Therefore, it is wrong and naive for the UPND administration to believe that now that they are in Government they should only advance the interests of their three-province stronghold.
6. As Patriots for Economic Progress we wish to remind the UPND administration that national development is delivered to different parts of the country in different shapes and forms and at different times. Therefore it is mischievous for the New Dawn administration to point at one category of development and use it as a basis of peddling the narrative that the previous administration neglected their three-province stronghold. For instance, developments such as the marvelous and very costly Mongu-Kalabo road in Western Province or the Kazungula Bridge in Southern Province cannot be found in any of the other 7 provinces. Therefore, President Hakainde Hichilema and his New Dawn administration should appreciate the national development that was delivered by previous administrations and pick up the baton from here and deliver more national development going forward. He should not waste all his energy pointing at the mistakes of the previous administrations, whether real or imagined.